Tape Storage

Most companies offering removable storage devices will claim that they’re great for backing up hard disks. In reality, the market they’re trying to muscle in on is outside their capabilities. The traditional security backup technology – tape – remains the best choice, and for two very good reasons: capacity and cost. The more inconvenient a security backup regime is to implement, the less likely users are to bother. With the size of the average hard disk now several gigabytes, tape is generally the only media that allows a complete hard disk to be backed-up without needing to swap media during the process. Furthermore, removable storage media is comparatively expensive, with overall costs up to ten times that of tape.

In the past, helical scan tape technology provided an acceptable unattended backup solution. Adapted from 8mm home video tape technology in the mid-1980s, 8mm helical scan technology fits the needs of mid-range and low-end systems because of its high capacity. The most popular solutions for low-end systems, with less demanding backup requirements, are 4mm helical scan digital audio tape (DAT) and quarter-inch cartridge (QIC) linear tape.

As corporations commit more and more mission-critical information to automated systems, electronic storage requirements are increasing dramatically. Imaging, multimedia and other emerging data-intensive applications are major drivers of this growth fueling the need for better, more cost-effective solutions that deliver higher capacity, increased performance and better data integrity. This has resulted in both a new generation of tape drive technology – such as DLT and the newer 8mm formats such as Mammoth and AIT – and a “robotic” class of tape storage management applications capable of running without operator intervention and with high levels of reliability.

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